Yesterday was the first time I have been able to take the children outside to play in a few weeks. It’s either been raining, or too cold. They have been sick and I have been sick, but yesterday afternoon we are all well. The rain had not reached our area at that point and the air and the breeze were on the warm side. After my son’s pouty faced plea, “Daddy, I want to go outside and play in the leaves”, the decision was made: we would go outside and play in the leaves.
Fall is such a magical time of year. Full of color, the change of the seasons, and looking forward to all the holiday celebrations. It is also a great time of year for getting outdoors (unless you have serious allergy issues) and playing with the children. The weather is cooling off, the leaves are falling, and a warm breeze just lingers in the air. It makes me think of the oncoming winter, the smell of chimneys, snowfall, and hot chocolate. Celebrations of the different holidays fill our schedules with weekend trips and fall shopping frenzy.
This day however, the feel of fall blowing against my skin, and the sight of watching my children have the time of their lives has me thinking a little deeper. I watch as they smile their little hearts out. I watch as the leaves they throw up in the air get carried away in the breeze. Twisting and turning, blowing this way and that. I listen to the laughter and the innocence that it carries on the wind. Their voices get intertwined with the sound of rustling leaves and the wind blowing through the barren trees. I smile, I rejoice in all that is good, and I stop.
I think back to when I was a child. Fighting because I did not want to put my jacket on to go outside. Whining and pitching a fit because I did not want to come back inside. I think back to chasing our dog Rooney around and romping in the grass and leaves in my parent’s backyard. I can still remember the smells of fall in the deep south; and the way the riverbirch tree seemed to tower overhead when the branches had become bare. I think back to trips to Grandmama and Grandaddy’s house, and climbing the tree in their front yard. I think of visits to Nana and Papa’s house on the golf course; the beautiful greens and fairways beautifully contrasting to the brown, red, and yellow leaves that had fallen on the course.
Then I pause once again, and turn back to my children. Their eyes are glowing with excitement and amusement. I watch their red cheeks spread with wide grins, from ear to ear. I watch innocence in its purest form. I watch the carefree spirit that dwells inside of every child. That innate cuteness that draws us to tears of joy, kisses from one cheek to the other, and hugs that could last a lifetime. Then I start to think: where does this cuteness go? What happens when we get older that causes us to lose that carefree spirit? And how can I teach my children to never lose sight of those feelings?
I don’t know the answers, and I’m not sure I know where to begin to search for them. I throw these questions into that warm fall breeze, and watch them float away. Perhaps it is not all about the state of things in the future, but making the best of the now. My children, right now, right in that moment, are happy. They are healthy, they are alive, and they are full of spirit. They call me over to join in the fun, and I leave my questions and concerns behind me. Sitting in the leaves on this fall day, I was reminded. Reminded that there is not enough time to be worried about time we do not yet have. Reminded that the memories of life are only made in the now. And that time with the children is time well spent, no matter what. In this revelation, I find peace, and all is well.